When I was in 7th grade, I worked on an extensive family history project for one of my classes. My grandfather was living with us at the time, so I had a ready and willing participant. During the interview, he had so much to say that he kept talking well after my tape recorder had stopped. The other component of my project was piecing together a pictorial family tree. With my parents each having 6 other siblings and those siblings having families of their own, this was a huge tree, and I searched high and low to find the oldest and best photographs of my family. I proudly brought the tree to class along with a very abridged version of my grandfather’s story, and to my relief, my presentation went smoothly. Our classroom walls were beautifully decorated with my family tree and the rest of the projects from my fellow classmates.
One typical Monday morning, I arrived at school early before most students filled the hallways, and I walked the familiar path to my history class. It was one of those portable buildings situated towards the back of the campus. I was confused to find yellow caution tape blocking the entrance that would lead to those buildings. To my dismay, I saw my classroom along with a couple of other rooms covered in debris, and the smell of burned wood was still in the air. Nothing was left, including my irreplaceable family photos. Word got around that arsonists snuck into campus during the weekend and, for reasons unknown, burned those classrooms to the ground. My teacher, who was single in her 20s, was so devastated that she decided not to return to the school. I don’t know if she ever taught again. How quickly we can lose our precious earthly possessions! Though there are now restoration services at our disposal, even treasured objects, like photographs, will still fade over time. What will last and stand up under the test of time?
Jesus told us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
I began this journey on writing about heavenward thoughts out of a deliberate attempt to loosen my grip on things that are earthly and temporal. And, I’m not just referring to material possessions, though that is a part of it. There are things that I want in this life that are beginning to obstruct my view of the “Celestial City.” And I don’t mean evil things. One example is my children’s education; pretty soon, our nice little break will come to an end, and schooling will start again. Our decision to homeschool our son, Gabriel, was because we believed he would thrive better, receiving one-on-one instruction rather than being in a large classroom. But when educating my child at home became my hope for a better future for him, I knew I was in trouble. Of course, I would want him to overcome some of his challenges! Of course, I would want him to grow and succeed! Of course, I would love to see him living life more independently, perhaps going to college or getting a job or getting married and having a family or all of the above! Typical dreams of a mother for her children. But if this is the best that I want for my children, I come short of what’s really best for them. Where is my treasure? Where is my heart? Am I investing in an earthly treasure of a good education? Or am I seeking the eternal treasure of leading my little lambs and praying that they follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd?
What treasures are you laying up? It can be difficult to discern when those things are not, in and of themselves, bad. But perhaps, it would do us well to stop for a minute in our pursuit and consider: will we, one day, find the treasures of our hearts preserved in heaven for us?
Only one life, ’twill soon be past
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
(Photo credit: zen)